This sermon is part of our Inescapable series. Inescapable is a 12 part series that studies the Gospel of Matthew and its messages. You can watch all 12 here.
This morning we are continuing our series called Inescapable. The power of Jesus is unstoppable. The glory of Jesus is undeniable. The love of Jesus is uncontrollable. Our faith in Jesus is inescapable.
The more we soak our life in the life of Jesus the more confident we are going to be in Jesus, right? Can you imagine if you were trying to learn a foreign language by spending 20 minutes a week? It would never happen.
In the same way, we want to saturate our lives in Jesus, because the more we walk with Jesus, the more we are changed by Jesus. The more we talk with Jesus, the more we are moved by Jesus. Theologically Jesus is efficacious, so that Jesus’ work in our lives is effective in calling us to Himself and bringing about His purposes in our life.
Last Sunday we looked at the first half of Matthew 1 to see Jesus’ rule and authority is over all places, all people and all times. In our passage this morning we see the glory of God breaking into humanity as an infant. Isn’t that interesting?
Surely the God of Scripture would show up as a world leader like Volodymyr Zelenskyy? Surely the glory of God would show up with the wealth and influence Cristiano Ronaldo? Surely there would be this grand entrance where fire comes shooting out of His eyes like the Rock in a WWE match?
But instead, God’s Word teaches us that Jesus, God in the flesh, shows up in the most unsuspecting way, as a baby. Let’s look at verse 18, Matthew 1:
Matthew 1:18, “18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.”
Last Sunday we were reminded that the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew. Matthew worked as a tax collector for the Roman Empire and through faith in Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and promised return, Matthew’s life is eternally changed.
Listen to me, this is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. You don’t become a follower of Jesus because you were born in Texas. You don’t become a follower of Jesus because Jesus is just a good person. You become a follower of Jesus because you believe Jesus is a man who walked on earth as God. Take that in for a second.
We just need to get on the same page. We are reading a passage this morning that is familiar to the people in our culture. This is a story that gets passed over every Christmas but this story isn’t a fairy tale story. This story isn’t historical fiction of a legendary character in a Marvel movie. This story is the story of God taking on flesh, born of a virgin who willingly laid down His life at the cross and conquered death in the resurrection.
These next 12-months we are praying and asking the God of Scripture to embolden our faith in Him and it’s possible we don’t see the boldness we want to see because we haven’t connected our head and heart to the supernatural parts of our faith. Does that make sense?
It’s 2023. Everyone is walking on eggshells. Everyone is nervous about offending everyone, therefore, in an attempt to make our faith in Jesus more palatable, more accessible, more comfortable we simply start shaving off the supernatural parts of our faith in Jesus.
I mean, we don’t have to believe all of creation was spoken into existence in Genesis 1, right? We don’t have to believe supernatural and miraculous events took place in God’s Word, right? We don’t have to believe humanity is spiritually dead in our sin, we don’t have believe Jesus was born of a virgin, so we start shaving, removing, ignoring, so that we are left with this sweet story of warm fuzzies around the holidays when people go shopping for presents. And then we wonder why we lack boldness.
Listen to me, you can do that if you want, you just need to know, that’s not the story of Jesus. In verse 18 we see Mary and Joseph are betrothed to be married and Mary is found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. That verse is filled with shock and awe!
The word “betrothed” is a little like our word “engagement” and also a little different. In the Jewish culture in the first century when a man and woman would become “betrothed” it was like getting married without sexual intimacy.
(I know we have children in here this morning, so just to be clear, sex is a wonderful thing created by God but sex has been designed to take place within the commitment of marriage between husband and wife.)
In the first century Jewish culture a “betrothal” was a commitment that would usually last 12-months. A ceremony would take place. There was a formal contract at the place of worship with friends and family present, so that after the “betrothal” a couple would return where another ceremony would take place and a marriage would be established with sexual intimacy but Mary and Joseph aren’t at that place, therefore, how did Mary end up pregnant. That’s the tension of the passage this morning! There’s nothing warm and fuzzy for Joseph and Mary in this moment.
I remember when my wife and I got engaged. We dated for 9-months and we didn’t kiss till we got engaged. When relationships get physical they get emotional and we wanted to be as level-headed as possible.
One night we went on a date to do laundry at the washeteria on University Blvd. in Denton, TX. Under the fluorescent lighting with an elderly woman sitting near the window I said, “Holly, I am thinking this relationship needs to head toward marriage. If that’s not what you’re thinking, then I need you to tell me because that’s the direction I am going in.” Holly said with a blank face, “OK.”
Three months later we were at a Christmas party with about 100 friends and I said, “I am going to go to the restroom.” I walked across the room, I handed Holly’s childhood friend, Lena, a note that took Holly on a scavenger hunt to key places we had been while we were dating.
Best of all I took the car that Holly and I drove in and the note said, “You have to get someone to let you borrow a car. Good luck!” The clues took her to the first place I asked her out. Then the next clue took her to the place of one of our first dates. Then the next clue took her parent’s house. The last clue took her to my apartment where I was waiting to ask for her hand in marriage. She said, “Yes!” We kissed. It was electric!
Holly and I were engaged for 6-months. We waited to have sex with one another until our wedding night, so if during that 6-months if Holly would have told me she’s “with child” I would have been rattled. Can you imagine?
The natural assumption is that Mary has been unfaithful to Joseph. We read verse 18 around Christmas as this sweet story with warm fuzzies, but when verse 18 was taking place in real life it would have been earth shattering. Let’s see what Joseph is thinking. Look at verse 19:
Matthew 1:19, “19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”
That means break off the betrothal. Joseph knows this baby isn’t his baby. Joseph could walk away from Mary and make a public separation so as to embarrass Mary but instead Joseph plans to do the honorable thing and send Mary away secretly.
You know Joseph is crushed. You know Joseph was dreaming about a life with Mary. You know Joseph was thinking about the children they would raise, the family business they would build, the wedding ceremony that was coming and now all those dreams are falling apart because surely has been unfaithful. Look at verse 20:
Matthew 1:20, “20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
Look at the supernatural wording of verse 20. An angel of the Lord! Circle those words. The title “son of David” is supernatural language that we discussed last Sunday. Circle that title. A child being conceived of by the Holy Spirit. What does that mean?
I get it. In our day, nobody wants to be offense. Nobody wants to rock the boat. Today people want to compartmentalize, so that we have our work friends, social friends, church friends so that nobody clashes with one another but you can’t read verse 20 with warm fuzzies.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have questions about our faith in Jesus. Perhaps there are some of us who wondering, “How did Mary conceive a child by the Holy Spirit?” That’s a good question.
Perhaps some of us are wondering, “What if Mary was just making this up to avoid being embarrassed?” Right now, some of us are probably thinking, “Why didn’t I think of saying it was the Holy Spirit?” Those are great questions!
Listen to me, asking questions isn’t wrong. Sometimes we assume our doubts and questions about God are wrong and we should just believe 100% but sometimes our doubts and questions can draw us closer to God.
I get frustrated at the life of Jesus. Why didn’t Jesus say it this way? Why didn’t Jesus talk about this? Why didn’t Jesus make this area of life clearer? And sometimes those questions and doubts and frustrations can drive us deeper into the Lord. We don’t want to run from questions, we want to lean into the questions.
In verses 18 and 20 when we see “Mary is found to be with child by the Holy Spirit” they are telling us the God of Scripture is entering into human history. Theologically this is called the INCARNATION. God taking on flesh.
Just as the God of Scripture spoke order into chaos in Genesis 1 and God spoke light into darkness in Genesis 1, verses 18 and 20 are teaching us the God of Scripture is speaking His glory into the womb of Mary. Isn’t that amazing?
In addition, when you see the phrase “Joseph, son of David” you need to know this is language that would jump off the page in the first century. We touched on this last Sunday.
Today we just read over those words but last Sunday we walked through the genealogy of Jesus. We saw the promises of David in 2 Samuel 7 that one day one will come and rule and the throne of David for eternity, so that the angel is referencing that promise by speaking to Joseph as the “son of David” thus fulfilling that promise. Isn’t that glorious?
So that in verse 20 we have angels and prophecy and God speaking Himself into humanity. It’s cosmic. You don’t want to remove that from the story. You can’t remove that from the story.
When we do, either intentionally or passively, we are just going to be left with a natural, explainable, simple story about Jesus that will leave us with a faith that is natural, explainable and simple. You can’t do that.
And, listen to me, in our day, we have to actively fight against that because the current of our day is strong. So much so, if you, as a follower of Jesus, aren’t actively standing against the current with your head and heart, then you’re in the current. Does that make sense?
That’s why we are inviting our church family to make these commitments. As of today, we have 4 people who have responded. We want our whole church family memorizing God’s Word, leaning into prayer, locking arms with one another, so that mentally, emotionally, spiritually we are hanging on to the wonder of God. Look at verse 21:
Matthew 1:21, “21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Verse 21 is loaded with goodness. First did you notice the phrase “you shall call His name Jesus.” When we started North Village Church we got to name North Village Church. When you give birth to children you get to name your children.
Last year we fostered a little boy named Jah’Keem and we didn’t get to name Jah’Keem because we weren’t the parents of Jah’Keem. Naming something or someone shows authority.
However, in verse 21 the angel is speaking to Joseph so as to say, “You do not have authority over this child” because this child is the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth, right?
This One child is the only child who is born with more power than his parents. Sit in that for a second. This child is infinitely older than any other child, so that Joseph and Mary don’t get to name this child because this child is the One…who names you.
You need to know that about Jesus. Jesus isn’t a symbol for people to follow. Jesus isn’t an idea for people to consider. Jesus is eternal God made flesh. Theologically this is called Hypostatic Union. Don’t those words sound fancy? Those words sound fancy because those words capture the supernatural event of Jesus being 100% God and 100% man. Hypostatic union.
It’s why in Mathew 22 Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders of the day and Jesus asks them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” The religious leaders are quick to respond, “Son of David.” (2 Samuel 7). Great answer!
Jesus replies, “Then how does David call this future son Lord?” How does great King David worship his offspring as Lord? The religious leaders are expecting a king and Jesus from the Old Testament says, “No, speaking of Himself…the one to come is more than a king…and David knew it.” The next verse says, “No one was able to answer, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Jesus another question.” There is no one like Jesus.
In addition, just in case we wanted to strip away the uncomfortable parts of Jesus we see verse 21 confronts us with the most uncomfortable part, “Jesus has not come to be a good guy, do some good things but Jesus has come to save His people from their sin.” Do you see that in verse 21?
Let’s camp there for a second, because most of us think we don’t need saving. Most of us think we are pretty smart, pretty strong and a pretty good people. No matter what we have done, thought or said in life we tell ourselves we’re okay but deep down, when we’re honest with ourselves, we know we’re not okay.
We might not use words like “sin” or “broken” but we know something isn’t right. We see how agitated we get with people over parking spots. We see how selfish we are as people when we argue with roommates and spouses about who took out the trash.
We see patterns of addiction with our phones, food, entertainment, shopping, alcohol, medication, so that we see ourselves creating this double life of how we present ourselves in public and who we are in private.
It’s one of the most powerful parts of what we are doing in our groups right now. We are inviting men and women to share their story, birth to present with an attempt to reconcile a fuller expression of who we are, because we know the hour you see me on Sunday isn’t enough to know our story, the 5 minutes you see me on social media isn’t enough to know our story, the meals we share with one another isn’t enough to know our story, so that we have this longing to see our private and public worlds come together.
In verse 21 when God’s Word is telling us, “Jesus has come to save His people from their sins” it is the bible’s way of saying, “The God of Scripture has come to fully know you.”
Humanity is lost, therefore, Jesus has come, as fully man, so that He might become a suitable substitute to take our sin upon Himself and fully God, so that He has the power to disarm our sin. Does that make sense? That’s the gospel!
Jesus has come to call you to Himself. Jesus has come to know you. Sharing our stories with one another is great but Jesus has come to know every part of you call you His. That’s why we see the title we see in verses 22-23:
Matthew 1:22-23, “22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
Look at that phrase “God with us.” First, there are many names given to Jesus throughout the Old Testament. Sometimes wonderful counselor, mighty God, prince of peace but the name “Immanuel” means “God with us.” That’s the hope of our passage.
You need to know this is completely unique to Jesus. Other spiritual faiths of the world consider the idea that God would draw near to humanity as either impossible or unnecessary.
The primary goal for Hindu and Buddhist is to escape the physical and embrace the spiritual that is in every person, so that it is unnecessary for God to be with us because the divine spark of glory is already in you.
Then there are faiths like Islam and Judaism that would say, “Of course the glory of God would never enter into our world. The glory of God is too glorious!” But when the big man humbles himself to get on the floor with an infant, we don’t think less of that man but more, right? And the man who says to himself, “I would never crawl on the floor with a baby” is someone we actually think less of, right?
That’s the glory of Jesus’ life. The God of Scripture creates all of humanity to be perfect but our sin has completely distorted what He created to be good. We couldn’t possibly meditate our way out of that spiritual state. We couldn’t possibly do enough good things to get to Him. Instead, the God of Scripture breaks into humanity by taking on flesh as an infant. That’s glorious! God with us! Look at verses 24-25:
Matthew 1:24-25, “24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
Don’t you think there were moments where Mary and Joseph struggled to believe? Surely in those 9 months Mary wrestled with doubt. Surely Joseph questioned the events of his dream.
Joseph and Mary didn’t know how the story was going to unfold. They were two teenagers who suddenly became parents. Surely there were rumors from extended family, comments from friends, and whispers of people in the community. And all they could do was come back to the promises over and over and over. I want to invite the worship team to the stage. Let’s lower the lights. I want invite you to turn to Jesus. If you have never trust in Jesus do so this morning.
Just as the God of Scripture spoke into the womb of Mary, when you believe in Jesus, it is as though the God of Scripture is speaking His life into our soul so, turn to Jesus. Confess your sin, confess you need to be saved, confess that Jesus is Lord and He will call you His. Do that now!
If have you believed in Jesus, then let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us embrace the supernatural parts of our faith. Let’s ask the Lord to help us stop trying to make Jesus palatable.
Let’s commit to memorizing God’s Word, let’s commit to leaning into prayer, let’s commit to locking arms with one another. Let’s be a people who saturate our heart and mind in the promises of Jesus in the Old Testament. Let’s read the life of Jesus. Let’s watch Jesus heal the sick, calm the storms and raise the dead as a reminder that Jesus can and will work in our life today. We will have people at the back for prayer.
North Village Church
This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.
Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.
North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.
You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.
Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.